With COVID-19 restrictions easing up, small business owners everywhere are changing their business models and implementing numerous guidelines to keep their customers and employees safe. If you run your own auto body shop, you may also want to do the same to keep everyone who walks into the garage as safe as possible. If you need more ideas on how to do just that, continue reading to learn about auto body shop safety during the pandemic.
Assess the State of the Virus in Your Area
Unfortunately, an auto body shop is not a business that can be managed through the web. And while you may feel tempted to open your doors to the public again, assess the situation in your state. If there is still a higher risk in your neck of the woods, wait until things clear up. Remember, as an auto body shop owner, you’re free to call the shots.
Limit the Number of People in the Shop at One Time
Many places of business are currently admitting 25- 50% of their normal capacity. This allows you to enforce social distancing among your employees and customers.
Discourage Greetings That Break Social Distancing Guidelines
If your mechanics are quick to greet clients with handshakes, shut that down immediately and put your auto body shop safety first. While handshakes have always been a pleasant way to greet new customers, it’s best to disband close contact of any kind at this time.
Train your employees that a simple head nod is a fine substitute.
Print Out Stickers to Help Social Distancing Regulations
Even if you’ve implemented a strict 25% capacity rule, this doesn’t mean you should completely disregard other social distancing measures.
Yes, when crammed in a small workspace, it’s easy to forget all those stern ordinances. If you want to keep your workers safe, print out stickers and paste them onto the floor, six feet apart, to remind workers to keep that equal distance.
Create Glove and Mask Stations Throughout the Shop
Set up stations so that everyone has access to masks and gloves if you wish to implement more auto body shop safety tips during the pandemic. Use a cart or an all-purpose bin. Stock up on these disposable essentials to limit contact in the shop. Disposable surgical masks tend to be more sanitary than thick cloth masks. They are also more comfortable and breathable, so opt for the former.
Create a Direct Flow of Traffic
Another way you can enforce social distancing and implement these handy auto body shop safety tips? Create signs that direct the flow of traffic both into and out of your shop. One set of arrows should point to the exit, and the other towards the entrance as not to create a crowd around these high traffic areas.
Create Hand Sanitizer and Hand-Washing Stations
You should have hand sanitizer throughout the shop if you wish to cut down on the chances of the virus spreading from each person in your shop. Also, always keep hand soap in stock in all of the bathrooms. Remind your employees to wash for 30 to 45 seconds before rinsing with warm water. They should also scrub the backs of their hands as well as under their fingernails.
Make Masks Mandatory for Employees
While you can’t regulate whether or not your customers should wear masks, you do have a say when it comes to your employees. If they’re working indoors, or interacting with customers, encourage them to protect themselves by wearing one. If you’re met with some backlash, explain the situation carefully and remind them that it’s for their safety.
If they continue to refuse, consider terminating your employer/employee relationship as putting others at risk is grounds to fire them.
Encourage Customers to Wear Masks Too
Sometimes your customers will need a brief reminder to wear their masks while indoors. Post signs outside of your shop, reminding them to put their mask on if they have one.
Remind Your Customers That You’re Open
Get a banner made, or blast the message to all of your followers on social media and make your presence known. People may be reluctant to leave their homes, but others may be blatantly unaware that you’re open for business now. Also, make this information easy to find. If you have a website, put your new hours on your homepage. If you’re active on social media, pin this information as a top tweet or post.
Alternatively, if you have an email list, create a new campaign and send it out to your subscribers to get more people into the shop.
Check Temperatures Using a Touchless Thermometer
Invest in a touchless thermometer. It will allow you to detect fevers, and send home any employees that may be feeling under the weather that day. This also protects you and your customers.
If you have scanned your employee and have realized that their temperature is above the average, ask them if they’ve been experiencing any other symptoms. For example, difficulty breathing, chills, and severe coughing are some of the main signs of the virus.
Urge Employees Who are Feeling Sick to Stay Home
No one likes to miss a day of work. However, during this pandemic, you must allow your employees to stay home if they’re feeling feverish and fatigued. Permit them to call in sick without severe penalties.
Anticipate a Loss in Profit
With more people working and attending classes from home, there aren’t as many cars driving down the road, which means business is bound to dwindle. Prepare for the worst. Now’s not the time to start investing in new machinery for the shop.
Many businesses are getting more creative, so offer new services if you want to keep your business thriving, such as a tire service. Consider detailing cars as well — you can clean the car carpet, vacuum the interior, and wax the body.
Keep Your Employees Hopeful
Keep morale high and make sure to treat your employees with kindness. Encourage them to ask questions and openly speak about their anxieties about returning to work. As the owner of the shop, take the time to explain to your employees how you plan on keeping them safe during these troubling times.
Clean and Disinfect the Surfaces of the Shop Thoroughly and Regularly
This is one auto body shop safety tip you don’t want to forget.
Use a strong cleanser to wipe down all surfaces regularly. These surfaces can include countertops, tools, auto glass, and other pieces of machinery.
While there are plenty of effective cleansers at the store, you can also make your own by diluting bleach with water. Use 1/3 of a cup for every five tablespoons of bleach to kill off germs and bacteria.
Create Incentives and Deals for Your Loyal Customers
Auto body shop safety tips go beyond vigorous cleaning. Obviously, you also need to keep your business afloat if you want to continue paying your employees. Unemployment is also a prominent risk and danger you want to protect your employees from. Therefore, if you’re struggling to increase foot traffic during the pandemic, create special deals and incentives for your loyal customers. Perhaps, start a payment plan option if you can afford it.
Look into Creating an Online Booking System For Clients
If you do happen to have a busy day at the shop, you don’t want to overwhelm your employees by having dozens of clients show up at your door. To prevent an overflow, look into creating an online booking system. This tip will keep both your employees and customers safe, as it creates time slots to limit and distribute traffic to the shop.
Attach your online booking system to your website for easy access and to maintain a level of auto body shop safety at all times.
Consider Special Senior Hours for Your Auto Body Shop
Consider senior customers when creating a higher level of auto body shop safety.
Implement designated hours for senior citizens, as they are considered to be high risk for the virus. Grocery stores everywhere are offering special hours, so why not your automotive repair shop?
Create a Refresher Safety Course for Your Employees
If it’s been a while since your employees have come into work due to the virus, create a refresher course to prepare them to come back to work. Add old and new procedures to make sure everyone is up to date.
You can create a PowerPoint online. Furthermore, have everyone hop on a Zoom call to make sure everyone is on the same page and remind them of the following auto body shop safety guidelines.
Implement a ‘No Sharing’ Rule
Growing up, we were led to believe that ‘sharing is caring.’ However, sharing anything is not advisable during this outbreak of coronavirus and goes against these auto body shop safety tips. Remove shared coffee cups if your shop has a break room or office. Encourage everyone to bring their own instead. Also, get rid of shared pens or find a better system to limit the number of objects getting passed around from person to person.
Adjust Your Working Hours
Limit the number of hours you have your employees out on the floor. Until we have a vaccine, you should treat this pandemic as seriously as you did when you first heard the news of the outbreak.
Keep Posters on the Walls to Remind Everyone of the New Rules and Regulations
Print out some high-quality flyers and hang them up around the shop. Humans are forgetful, but this flaw shouldn’t cost anyone their health.
Allow One Customer Per Family
Another way you can limit traffic, without cutting down on the amount of business you’re getting, is to implement a ‘One Family Member Rule’ per set of cars. So if you’re fixing up a lot of cars, ask one single family member to enter the shop at a time. Make them the spokesperson for the entire family.
Put Up Sneeze Guards in Certain Areas
If you have a waiting area in your shop, place sneeze guards in the appropriate spots. For example, if you have a cashier in charge of taking payments, make sure they’re protected behind a wall of glass. Furthermore, make sure they have their own bottle of hand sanitizer if they’re handling cash and checks all day.
Stagger Breaks for Your Employees
Instead of having one set time for lunch, break this up into various mini-breaks. Assign your employees numbers, and stagger the breaks as not to clog up your break room.
Switch to Online Meetings
While you can’t repair automotive parts remotely, you can conduct certain aspects of your auto body repair business online. Skype, Zoom, and Facebook Messenger can serve as useful tools during this time.
With so many businesses opening up within these last few weeks, it’s natural to assume that things are going back to ‘normal’. Unfortunately, the world has not completely returned to its former state — not just yet. It will be forever changed, but this doesn’t mean you have to put your entire business on hold. Learn to adapt.
As long as you implement responsible guidelines and auto body shop safety tips — such as the ones listed above — you should be able to resume business as usual while keeping your employees and customers as safe as possible.